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Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing 2024-25 (Zinc & Dunhill Medical Trust)



Posted over 30 days ago...

Join the 2024-2025 Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing and transform the future of tech-enabled products and services


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No salary declared 😔

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London United Kingdom

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98% Remote- UK

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Expires at anytime

Organisation summary

Zinc, a leading European venture builder, has a 7-year track record of supporting over 450 innovators in creating mission-led, research-focused businesses aimed at improving health and the planet. Partnering with the Dunhill Medical Trust, Zinc offers an ecosystem rich with researchers, start-ups, and experts to drive significant economic and social impact, especially in the field of healthy ageing. The Dunhill Medical Trust is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of older people by supporting innovative research and care initiatives.

Role Summary

  • Immerse in commercial innovation for healthy ageing through a 6-9 month programme starting September 2024.
  • Collaborate in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment with Zinc and its network of ventures.
  • Receive valuable training, mentorship, and support to grow professionally.
  • Contribute to ventures focusing on areas like social care, mental health, and more.

Role Requirements

  • Must have submitted PhD thesis by programme start date.
  • Interest in innovations for improving later life quality.
  • Open to UK-based applicants with the right to work in the UK.
  • Willing to commit at least 6 months working in-house with Zinc/ventures.
  • Ability to adapt and work in a fast-paced entrepreneurial setting.
  • Team-oriented with a proactive and positive approach.

Application Process Details

  • Submit a 2-page CV and cover letter by 11:59pm on 7th April.
  • Indicate preferences for programme duration, full/part-time status, and any support needs.
  • Complete a video recording on the Workable platform as instructed.
  • Part-time fellowships and remote work arrangements considered on a project basis.
  • Provide letters of support from current employer if applicable.


Zinc and the Dunhill Medical Trust are delighted to launch this call for applications to our 2024-2025 Innovation Fellowships in Healthy Ageing. This is a 6-9 month programme, starting in September 2024. 

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of commercial innovation, supporting the development of tech-enabled products and services that contribute to healthy ageing. Researchers will also have the opportunity to engage in training, support and mentoring to help them translate their skills, explore new career opportunities, and connect with other talented researchers.

Note: These Fellowships are open to researchers of any career stage who have submitted their PhD thesis before the start date (more details on eligibility below).

About Zinc

Zinc has 7 years’ experience as one of Europe’s leading mission-led venture builders and innovation accelerators. We attract, rigorously select and support leading innovators to leverage advanced technology for healthier people and planet. Zinc has delivered 16 mission-led, research-focused programmes to help 450+ entrepreneurial people build new ventures and expand research. Since launching in 2017, Zinc has run a range of research and innovation programmes that have supported 100+ entrepreneurial people to expand research and build new commercial solutions that tackle complex societal issues. 

Our flagship venture-builder programme brings together cohorts of 70 talented people from a wide range of backgrounds and helps them build mission-focused, research-rich businesses from scratch. 

Since 2020, Zinc has also acted as the delivery partner for the UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards. We have a well-developed ecosystem of researchers, innovators, investors, start-ups and experts across a wide range of sectors, with more than half of our activity focusing on health.

About The Innovation Fellowships: Accelerating researchers’ careers

Zinc’s work focuses on unlocking and accelerating the potential of exceptional talent. This includes supporting researchers from different disciplines and career stages to explore research-based opportunities in ventures. Ventures are research-rich environments that provide unique opportunities for scientists to apply and advance their skills. Our experience has helped us understand the needs and opportunities for researchers to develop skills and experiences in mission-led innovation, while helping grow the science base in ventures and generate significant economic and social impact.

As such, Zinc’s Innovation Fellowships are designed to:

  • Offer researchers hands-on, immersive experience in relevant, impactful ventures
  • Extend their skillsets, strengthen their entrepreneurial mindsets and grow their networks
  • Accelerate research impact and advance scientific knowledge for economic and social impact

We’re excited to be building on our learning from the last five years - as well as a very successful Innovation Fellows programme in 2023-24 -, through a new round of postdoctoral Innovation Fellowships in 2024, focused on healthy ageing, in partnership with the Dunhill Medical Trust

These will allow researchers from any disciplinary background to build the knowledge and experience they need to apply and advance their skills in innovation for healthy ageing.

Through a 6-9-month programme, Fellows will work in-house with Zinc and our network of ventures, learn from each other as part of a cohort, and receive training, mentorship and guidance to support their personal and professional journey. We will work with successful applicants to make sure the placement project(s) they work on align as closely as possible with their skills and/or interests.

Zinc has an active portfolio of over 35 new ventures, many of whom are focused on an area that is directly relevant to healthy ageing, e.g. focusing on social care, mental health, physical activity, hearing loss, grief, mobility, menopause, incontinence, social isolation, nutrition, dementia diagnosis, and intercultural learning. 

Examples of our portfolio ventures in this area include Bellevie (who are looking to transform the future of care work), Vira Health (who are looking to extend healthy life expectancy, starting with menopause care), and EarGym (who are looking to improve hearing health). More examples are on our website.

About the Dunhill Medical Trust

We are committed to applying our resources to inspiring and enabling academic researchers and health and social care professionals (from across the disciplinary range) to apply their knowledge and skills to:

  • improving the quality of life, functional capacity and well-being for older people now, or
  • creating the context for change in the future: preventing, delaying or reducing future health and social care requirements.

We also want to play our part in informing and influencing the collective understanding of “what works” and enabling community organisations to develop innovative, evidence-informed and best practice ways of delivering care and support for older people and drive systemic change needed to secure a healthier later life for all.

We have collaborated with Zinc many times before, including commissioning a report on innovation in healthy ageing and, more recently, our investment in the Zinc 2 fund as part of our impact-led investment strategy. We partnered together to support two promising researchers to accelerate their innovation careers via the 2023-24 Innovation Fellowships.

This opportunity is directly aligned with our strategic objectives. In particular, we know we can promote innovation and contribute to making a real difference by connecting researchers from different disciplines with each other and with those working in professional practice and the community. This opportunity also aligns to our Funder Action Plan for the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers in which we commit to provide opportunities for researchers to gain experience in sectors beyond academia.


Who can apply?

This opportunity is open to researchers at any career stage post-PhD, but we particularly welcome applications from early career researchers (you must have submitted your PhD thesis by September 2024). Whatever your academic or professional background, it is essential that applicants have a strong interest in innovations to improve the quality of later life. Where relevant (e.g. for applicants on permanent or fixed term contracts elsewhere), applicants will need to obtain permission from their current employer to join the programme. Please note, this opportunity is only open to UK-based applicants with a right to work in the UK.

Evidence of the following skills, background and attributes will also be prioritised:

  • You have (or will soon have) completed a PhD in any discipline. Applicants from any career stage are welcome to apply.
  • You have a strong interest in enhancing your knowledge of early-stage innovation commercialisation and the role of research within that. No significant previous commercial experience is required.
  • You are keen to work in a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral environment and to translate the skills and knowledge gained in academia to a commercial context.
  • You are committed to spending at least 6 months working in-house with Zinc/ventures.
  • You have a strong interest in later life innovation.
  • Ability to plan and execute high-quality applied research: You have experience in designing and implementing projects in non-academic settings.
  • Flexibility and ability to respond positively to changing circumstances: you can adapt scientific rigour to a fast-paced, agile entrepreneurial context, working to tight and often-changing deadlines, and apply recommendations based on ventures’ commercial needs. You are excited to fully immerse yourself in this dynamic context.
  • Team player: You can work with the Zinc team and Founders of our ventures in a positive and constructive way.
  • Effective and proactive: You are organised and hands-on, and able to use initiative to make decisions. A positive, “can-do” attitude is essential.


Why apply?

This is an exciting opportunity for researchers to experience first-hand what it takes to build a mission-focused start-up from scratch, and to build science-rich products and services to improve outcomes for people in later life.

One of the Fellows we have previously hosted said the following about their experience:

"My Fellowship at Zinc opened my eyes to the possibilities of a research career beyond academia. I worked alongside brilliant researchers and specialists from myriad disciplines, applied my skills and expertise in experimental ways, and learned new skills across commercial innovation, including user research and product development – all to drive social impact at scale."

The role will provide the opportunity to:

  • Get a different sort of ‘industry’ experience. This won’t be like joining a big corporate organisation, public sector body or government department. Our early-stage start-ups provide a fast-paced, creative and experimental environment and aim to respond at scale to important issues. This is a chance to gain commercial experience in a supportive, research-led environment where the primary focus is on addressing complex health and care challenges. You’ll be working directly with entrepreneurs and their teams, and have the opportunity to contribute your own ideas and thoughts throughout the process.
  • Develop or deepen your knowledge and understanding of early-stage innovation and the role of research within that. As well as learning on the job, you’ll have unlimited access to content delivered in the Zinc venture-builder programme.
  • Build or consolidate your understanding of product/service design approaches (e.g. design thinking) in a mission-focused but commercial context. Zinc’s approach to product development is grounded in principles of design thinking and human-centred design. These approaches are useful in many different contexts. Fellowships offer a chance for those new to these ideas to learn more about them, and for those who know them well to apply them in the particular context of mission-focused commercial venture building.
  • Lead on or participate in research with ventures. The Fellowships provide opportunities to conduct and disseminate creative, applied, design-led research for and with the ventures we develop. This might provide an opportunity to gain experience in new methods or approaches (e.g. participatory or action research), or to apply methods you already know well in the new context of early-stage innovation.
  • Work in a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral environment. You’ll work with a diverse range of people across disciplines, domains and sectors. Importantly, you’ll also join a cross-disciplinary cohort of Innovation Fellows.
  • Join a supportive team from similar backgrounds to your own. Most of the Zinc R&D team have done PhDs and postdoctoral work before moving into innovation. We know the opportunities and challenges in this area, and are here to help make sure you have a positive experience with us.
  • Broaden your network and create unique new partnerships. Engaging with both researchers and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds will help you build productive relationships beyond your own organisation and area of research. These might form the basis of future research partnerships, as well as supporting your personal and professional development more widely.
  • Make a meaningful contribution to the development of brand-new businesses, products and services designed to improve people’s lives. If you’re passionate about healthy ageing, you’ll be excited by this chance to shape new products and services that aim to add more years of high quality to later life.

How to apply

We are asking for a short CV (max. 2 pages) and a cover letter (max. 2 pages), focusing on why you are interested in this Fellowship and healthy ageing. 

Please also indicate:

  • Whether you would prefer a 6- or 9-month programme.
  • Your preference for a full-time or part-time Fellowship and, if part-time, your proposed full time equivalent breakdown for the Fellowship and any other roles (a minimum commitment of 0.5 FTE is required for the Fellowship).
  • Your current or most recent grade/spine point/salary
  • Other potential incurred costs: support for travel and subsistence is available for those living outside of London, please specify whether you are likely to require these if your application is successful.

The application deadline is 11.59pm on 7th April.

Once we have received your written application, eligible candidates will receive a link (with instructions) to record a short video on the Workable platform. You must submit both the written application and the video recording to complete your application.

The Fellowship will start in September 2024. Fellowships are typically full-time, but applications for part-time Fellowships will also be considered. Remote work should be possible, but this will be dependent on the nature of the project and host venture. Zinc and most of our ventures are based in London, but many are remote-first. Funding is available to support successful candidates living outside London with travel and subsistence, to allow for face-to-face working where candidates need to travel.

Successful candidates will be asked to provide letters of support from their current employer (if applicable) confirming salary/spine point and their support for the Fellow joining the programme.

We will be funding two to three Healthy Ageing Fellowships through this process, and these Fellows will form part of a wider cohort of researchers (funded through separate schemes). Salaries will be paid in line with applicants’ current grade and according to the Higher Education single pay spine.

For queries about the application process or the Fellowship programme, please email [email removed - click apply for more details].


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